• TOO April Buck of the Month - Seth Newkirk's "Turnip Ten"

    With the recent green-up happening all around us, I couldn't help but think the story of Seth's early season buck would be a great addition to the TOO BOTM fraternity. I've seen thousands of pictures of happy hunters posing with dead bucks over the years, but the one Seth captured in his turnip field following his hunt ranks among my favorite of all time. I don't know many hunters who are more ate up with big whitetails than Seth and he has the track record, and shed collection to back it up! Congrats to TOO's very own "Buckslayer" on his outstanding early season bow kill!!!

    The Turnip Ten

    As many of you know, killing a buck is no walk in the park, and the past fall showed this statement to be true. In reality, my season started in the spring as I put out minerals, salt blocks, and trail cams in hopes of catching a mature whitetail frequenting my area. A few weeks after placing my cameras, I had three bucks I considered to be on my hit list.

    I have been bowhunting since 2006 and have been blessed to kill four bucks with my bow leading up to the 2011 season. My typical hunting season prior to this year would include throwing up trail cameras at different properties trying to locate an area holding many bucks that I would pursue. One year I would hunt a pinch point on a small tract of hardwoods, the next I would set up over a trail on a shelf in big timber. Every season would bring frustration early on followed by some luck at the beginning of the rut. Year after year I would be denied the privilege of seeing a racked buck before the last week of October. The 2011 season would turn out to be a totally different story.

    Dad and I decided to plant a couple food plots in the brushy overgrown field at my farm. I purchased a mixture of brassica and turnip seed in hopes of keeping deer in my area throughout the winter. We planted mid August and hung stands accordingly.

    The first week of bow season I hunted here and there, jumping from stand to stand the first four days without much luck. I figured I was in for another early season lull and would probably not see much action until the rut began to kick off. All of the bucks I had on camera were nocturnal with one buck from my hit list disappearing completely. Luckily, I had placed a time lapse camera over my turnip plot the day before season began, but had yet to check it.

    Sept. 26, 2011 - Monday

    I hunted a stand one hundred yards above a plot with plans of intercepting a buck sneaking in at dusk. Nothing... As I climbed down and made my way back to the truck, I crossed the top of the ridge overlooking the brushy field with the large plot. I could barely make out through the darkness the bouncing of white tails leaving the turnips.

    Sept. 27, 2011 - Tuesday

    I hunted a stand adjacent to the turnip plot where I assumed the deer were filtering through on their way to enjoy the buffet I provided. I saw a few deer coming from the timber and entering the plot through an overgrown field of goldenrod. Over seventy yards away they all traveled, with not hide nor hair of any of the hit list bucks amongst them. As I left, I grabbed the time lapse camera and checked it on the computer at home.

    Sept. 28, 2011 - Wednesday

    After seeing that the typical ten from my hit list was obviously lounging in my turnip plot while I was out gallivanting around the hardwoods trying to locate deer, I immediately decided to take aggressive action and put a blind right on the upper edge of the plot. Soon after my morning hunt, the blind was in place and brushed in. However, I did not hunt it that evening.

    Sept. 29, 2011 - Thursday

    I hunted the blind for the first time and just as expected, a doe and two bucks showed up within the last thirty minutes of legal shooting light. Although neither buck was on my hit list, my spirits were lifted at the sight of deer at close range without being spooked by the newly placed ground blind.

    Sept. 30, 2011 - Friday

    By noon I was thinking of the evening hunt. I was beginning to wonder if I was overhunting the area and considered giving it a break. I looked out and saw the weather was taking a turn for the worse with rain beginning to come down. The thoughts of staying dry in the blind won out over being drenched while perched high in a treestand. So there I was sitting in my chair in the blind at 3 pm.

    At 4 the wind picked up and the rain came down in droves. Beads of moisture were blown in the windows of my blind and small leaks began falling from the seams in the roof of the blind. I began to doubt my decision to hunt and told myself that I would never shoot a deer in such a downpour. As luck would have it, the rain slacked off within a half hour. Around 5 a small buck scurried from the overgrown field across the plot. After five minutes of feeding he began looking over his shoulder in the direction he had come. I was on the edge of my seat within seconds, scanning the tall grass and weeds looking for whatever had gotten his attention. Then I saw him, lumbering along the same trail leading directly to the plot in front of me. In an instant he was there, just standing, staring in my direction. This being my first close encounter with a quality buck from the blind, I felt as if I was sitting in a spotlight. Moments passed, he became calm and began to browse on the turnips, the leaves hanging from his mouth as he would occasionally glance in my direction. Curious as to what this new black hole in his dining room could be, he slowly fed towards me while I ranged him with every few steps he took. He walked directly towards me until he reached twenty yards. He turned to his right leaving a broadside shot. Upon release of the arrow I noticed two things, impact just behind the front leg, and the buck turning towards me. As he ran, he slowed within sight and my heart began to sink as he stood eighty yards away before walking into the hardwoods. After I retrieved my arrow and found less than desirable sign, I decided to back out for the night.

    Oct. 1, 2011 - Saturday

    The following morning broke cool and crisp and I was in the plot just after daybreak. My mind had raced throughout the night with thoughts of losing this magnificent animal and the replay of what had happened the previous evening. I was alone and I was determined to find this buck. I began grid searching from the spot I had last saw the deer. I did not find any sign of blood or indication of a wounded buck at any time during my search. That changed thirty minutes and two hundred yards into the hardwoods. I found him piled up in a creek bottom.

    Finally, I had my early season buck and he was a beauty. Although not my biggest buck, he surely was memorable and had me torn up for an entire day. I learned to never give up when looking for a deer and always give the animal plenty of time to expire. Had I tried to track the deer the night before, I surely would have lost him. This is the buck I will always be proud of for being my first blind killed deer, my first buck I had on trail camera, and my first early season buck from the turnip plot.

    I got my mount back around Christmas and it is the best looking mount I have. The early season coat on this deer is beautiful. Although any type of hunting you may do involves heartbreak and frustration, just remember that hunting is about the experience, not the result.

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